On Wednesday (4 March), during the committee of supply debate in Parliament, Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim posed several questions regarding the types of projects that require the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) approval that involve major alterations or replacement works to fix installation.
Ms Lim asked if the BCA examines the certifications and other paperwork of Qualified Persons (QP) engaged by project owners. On this, she asked, “To what extent does the BCA itself verifies the soundness of these certifications?”
The MP cited that the Ministry of National Development (MND) had outlined details, back in July 2018, regarding the standard procedures involving building projects. According to Ms Lim, the MND specified that during the planned submission stage, the BCA would perform a sampling check of the plans and design calculations of selected key structural elements. This is done to ascertain that the QP and accredited checker has carried out the designs and checks in accordance with the building and control legislative requirements.
The MND had also assured that the BCA would conduct targeted inspection on structural works during the construction stage.
Therefore, Ms Lim questioned if the checks carried out by these agencies are the same as those which had previously worked on the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) project. She queried, “Does the collapse of the structure and the facts found by the court indicate any loophole that needs to be plugged?”
In view of that, she also asked, “Is there a need for the agencies to play a larger role in regulating building projects to ensure public safety?”
The questions raised by Ms Lim relate to the incident in 2017 where a PIE viaduct had collapsed, resulting in the death of one person and leaving ten others injured. To date, a number of professionals associated with the project have been charged and convicted in court.
Among them was an Indonesian engineer, Mr Arianto Tjandra, who was sentenced by the court last December to serve 86 weeks in jail along with a fine of $10,000 for being the lead person who was responsible in designing and preparing the building work plans for the said viaduct.
It was established in court that Mr Tjandra knew his team of five engineers were inexperienced in designing bridges. However, he failed to provide proper guidance and instructions to his team who led the construction of the viaduct.